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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County School District is once again taking heat for the use of “seclusion rooms.” A family has filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

The parents of a special needs five-year-old filed the complaint. They believe disabled students are being treated unfairly when it comes to seclusion rooms.

“It’s not talked about. It’s kept quiet. It’s New Hanover County Schools’ dirty little secret,” said Sara Reider, a parent of a special needs child.

Reider’s child has been put in a seclusion room multiple times. She’s not the person who filed a complaint against the school system, but she is part of NC Fear Free Education, a local group that is trying to get seclusion rooms banned.

“It can exacerbate behaviors. Children are dehumanized. They’re traumatized. There’s long lasting effects. They’re stressed. Anxiety increases,” Reider said of seclusion rooms.

The small, padded seclusion rooms are used for children with special needs, and they are often a part of their individual education plan, or IEP.

“It’s not an idea that you’re putting somebody in an area and you’re going to put them there for a specified period of time until they can quote ‘learn how to behave.’ That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about deescalation, safety, so they can’t hurt themselves or hurt someone else,” New Hanover Co. Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday said.

Holliday says when it comes to seclusion rooms they follow House Bill 1032, which is known as the Greenblatt Act. But Reider says that does not make it right.

“The law is quite convoluted,” she said. “There’s a lot of leeway in there. It’s hard for anybody to read that law and understand what is what.”

As for the formal complaint filed this week, it claims children with special needs are discriminated against, because the rooms are specifically for them. Dr. Holliday has a different take.

“There are lots of intervention that you may use for children who are entitled that you may not use for someone else because they don’t need that intervention, so everyone’s individual education plan is just that: it is individual,” he said. “Interventions that are used in all those plans are specific to that particular child.”

The family who filed the complaint wishes to remain anonymous.

As of now, the school district has not received official word of the formal complaint.

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44 Comments on "Complaint filed against New Hanover Co. Schools over seclusion rooms"

2015 years 10 months ago

First of all, NC has no union for teachers! Parents should NOT be allowed to make the rules in the school system. Kids should NOT have more rights than teachers. If any kid punches a teacher in the face they should be put into a seclusion room. I’m sure those parents that petitioned the seclusion room will get what they want. Teachers will continue to get slapped, punched, kicked, spit on, etc. It’s ok, teachers gave up their rights when they signed their contracts.

2015 years 10 months ago

That is not true! I’m sure some people misuse these rooms but I have witnessed these rooms being used for the safety of the staff and other students. They are padded and the child is safe in the room. It is no different that putting the child in time out.

2015 years 10 months ago

Are you kidding me? Are people that ignorant? These rooms are not only used for specila needs kids. It has to be in their IEP. I have seen this room used in several situations. Let me give you some examples and you decide if you would like your child subjected to such behavior.

-punching the teacher in the face
-punching the principal in the face
-punching the assisstance officer in the face
-urinating (on purpose) on the other children
-taking pooh out of thier own pants and wiping it on another child
-cutting themselves with scissors
-throwing chairs at other students
-scratching teachers with objects

There are many more examples, these are just a few. People need to wake-up! Kids are violent and there has to be something that teachers can do to keep themselves and other children safe.

2015 years 10 months ago

I have been in education for 15 years, and I have never seen a child put in a seclusion room for the types of things you listed. I think that maybe you are not telling the truth or, you are not willing to admit that your child has issues.

2015 years 10 months ago

There is a school for autistic children downtown, take your kids there or homeschool. Maybe the parents don’t want a kid who is violent and out of control to be around their children. Our kids are entitled to a “fear free” education also!


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